Migration panel 4. The Negro was the largest source of labor to be found after all others had been exhausted.

A common, recurring theme within Lawrence’s artwork is the dignity of the worker; centralized on that of the African American worker. Similar to Panel no. 2 in his Migration Series, Lawrence focuses on the lives of industrial workers: this time focusing on the the life of the black worker. With his arms raised high behind his head, the man prepares to swing a mallet down on a post. Motion is conveyed through the painting, as Lawrence’s simplistic style allows viewers to focus solely on the worker fulfilling his task at hand. The mottled green background and hardwood floor are not what causes the figure to stand out: rather, it is the window. Behind the man is a small window with a bright sky on the other side. The deep brown color of the worker’s skin against the light blue of the sky is what draws one’s eye to the figure in the foreground: he is the main focus. This particular work of Lawrence conveys not only the integration of African Americans into the workforce in place of their white predecessors, but also the isolation they felt (there are no other workers around the figure or in the background of the painting). Additionally, there is a sense of yearning for life outside of industrialism conveyed through the work. The window behind the figure suggesting that there is more outside of the workforce; more that the worker will not be able to see.
SKU: 65215
Creator: Jacob Lawrence
Date: 1940-41
Original Medium: Tempera on gesso on composition board
Original Size: 18 x 12 in
Location: Museum of Modern Art, NY
© 2016 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Paper SizePortrait / LandscapeUnframedFramed
Petite8x10 / 10x8$19$109
Small11x14 / 14x11$29$189
Medium16x20 / 20x16$59$279
Large22x28 / 28x22$99$389
Extra Large32x40 / 40x32$159$449